IT departments deserve some love from companies, but they rarely get it. Often, they're the ones who take the blame when computers go haywire or the internet cuts out. IT staff even have to do the dirty work for office Luddites, performing menial tasks like resetting forgotten passwords, unjamming printers and connecting laptops to projectors. Still, they tend to be underappreciated.
This is quite unfortunate, since IT departments actually face a lot of challenges these days. Their jobs now go beyond making sure computers work. As cyberattack threats grow more rampant, they have to make extra effort to ensure that your infrastructure is always secure. Infrastructures are getting more complex too as more tasks transition to the cloud. There's also the increase in smart device adoption, which adds to the endpoints they have to manage.
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Managing such a diverse set of tasks can be quite the undertaking, especially for teams in small or midsize businesses that don't have the manpower available to larger enterprises. An overburdened IT team can expose your business to the risk of costly downtime. Costs vary depending on an organization's size and industry, but companies claim that they can lose around $100,000 an hour.
Leadership must be aware of these IT challenges. It's your job to put them in the best position to do their jobs well. Here are five ways you can help your IT department run more effectively.
IT isn't just about workstations, networks and servers these days. It's involved in all aspects of business these days. IT should be a key part of your business strategy, all the more so if you're pursuing tech-driven efforts like automation and analytics. You need a solid IT backbone for your organization, and your team is a critical part of that. Your IT team should have an understanding of the company's overall goals and the specific business concerns of other departments. This way, they can also plan for the best way to configure and manage their manpower and your IT resources to support everyone.
Automating tasks frees your staff from the drudgery of grunt work. Tasks like routine patching and software deployment can take up so much of an IT staff's time and effort if done manually. Instead of letting them roam around the office and individually fiddle with workstations, you can acquire services like cloud-based endpoint management software. This allows your team to manage, update and secure devices connected to your network, including workstations, servers and even IoT devices. The system keeps track of endpoint devices and readies critical updates once developers make them available. These can be configured to happen automatically. Staff can also perform tasks remotely, saving time and effort.
There are areas in IT where your team might not have the required competency level or that would be expensive to support in-house. You may consider outsourcing to cover these. For example, more than half of companies already claim that there's a problematic shortage of IT security skills in the industry today. Rather than worrying about hiring, try outsourcing this need. Security companies already have experts on board, so a cost-effective way to address the requirement is to partner with a managed security service provider. MSSPs offer a variety of services, including cloud and endpoint security. Their own security experts are the ones tasked to ensure that their services work and that you're covered.
You can't expect a barber to cut hair well with nail clippers. IT teams need to have the right tools to do their jobs. You might find items like screwdrivers, cable ties, flash drives, hard drives, various software licenses, hardware, and even computing appliances in their budgets and procurement requests. These aren't nice-to-haves; they are essential to run and maintain a modern workplace infrastructure. Invest in building your team the proper toolkits. You can even consider shifting parts of your infrastructure to the cloud. This would allow you to shift IT expenses from capital to operating expenditure and even minimize the demand for on-premises maintenance.
If you can't hire talent, develop it internally. Get your existing staff up to speed with developments in the industry by providing training. And don't limit training to your IT staff; you should also educate the rest of your organization. There's no excuse for your non-IT staff not to know basic computing operations, troubleshooting and security practices. According to research commissioned by Experian, errors and malicious actions by employees remain the top threat to IT security. So help your IT staff by ensuring that they can worry less about addressing user error. Equip everyone with the know-how to apply the best practices in IT use.
It's time for your IT department to be recognized among the enablers of the business. Make sure that they have the means to collaborate with the rest of the organization. Adopt tools that allow them to coordinate effectively. Helpdesk software could help them immensely in prioritizing and delivering better service to their internal customers.
Make IT a shared responsibility. Establish the IT department's position as stewards of your IT resources, and encourage everyone to use your IT resources responsibly.